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Leveraging U.S. Geo-Strategic Positional Advantage to Prevail in a Mercantile World

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Technical Report

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Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States

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Since World War II, the United States has achieved dramatic economic and political success as guarantor of the global liberal international order. As the Department of Defense considers future planning scenarios, globalization-driven changes in that order may result in a more mercantilist structure dominated by segregation into competitive trade blocs. If such a future comes to pass, three characteristics will define the 2035 strategic environment demographics will determine many states power in international relations, the need to guarantee access to natural resources will guide the relations of competitors, and competitors will achieve technology-enabled military capabilities on par with the United States. This study explores how the United States can use its geo-strategic positional advantage to prevail in such a circumstance. A strategy focused on the area of the globe where the United States has direct access absent a viable competitor the area of geo-strategic positional advantage will allow the United States to prevail among competitors. Strategy ends consistent with U.S. interests and a mercantile environment are a well-defended homeland, access to markets and natural resources, and freedom of action in an area of influence. The ways to achieve the ends are building robustness in military and economic security, establishing and maintaining an area of influence, and managing natural resources and trade to exercise control over the area of influence. A strategy of geo-strategic positional advantage will require changing U.S. military posture and capabilities to enable the control of trade routes and production facilities in the area of interest. While the geo-strategic positional advantage strategy may receive pushback, the U.S. combination of economic power and the ability to mass military power locally will stymie any pushback effort.

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